Vegan. We’ve all heard about it, and you’ve probably seen it on labels, commercials, and all over social media, too. What does vegan mean, anyway? And what does it mean for you on a day-to-day basis? Let’s take a look at some of the basics:
What is a Vegan?
According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), a vegan, also known as a strict vegetarian, is someone who does not consume any product that is derived from an animal, such as meat, dairy products, honey or eggs. The diet does, however, contain a large number of natural ingredients that are derived from the earth like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. You will probably never see a vegan wearing a leather coat or fur. Some vegans may also not partake of products that can be made with animal ingredients or products that are filtered by animal’s parts such as some alcoholic beverages and white sugars. In addition, vegans do not use products that have been tested on animals.
This whole vegan thing may be new to you. In fact, in 2009 only 1% of the US population was vegan. By 2016, nearly 16 million Americans or 5% of the US population is now vegan. And the numbers are continuing to climb. What is the momentum behind all this change? 52% of vegans have been so for less than 10 years. And of the 16 million Americans who have become vegan, 42% of them say they chose to become a vegan after watching an environmental film.
Clearly, the demand on the market is there and only getting more relevant. Many companies are starting to produce products to appeal directly to the vegan market. Other new companies have been developing over the last several years to accommodate the demand.
But what about skin care? How is the health and beauty market responding to the demand on creating vegan skin care products? To help us understand what we can be using, let’s answer a few questions.
What is vegan skincare?
Not only adopting a strict lifestyle in terms of the food they put in to their bodies, vegans are more self-aware of what is being put on the outside of their bodies. By choosing products plant based, void of any animal ingredients and products not tested on animals, you are embracing the vegan lifestyle by what it is you put on your bodies, specifically, your skin.
What to look for?
If you are shopping for products, here are several animal by-products you want to look for: beeswax, collagen, honey, lanolin, cholesterol, gelatin, carmine, stearic acid and squalene. These products are commonly used in many of the most popular beauty brands on the market. And they aren’t just found in skincare. They can be found in soap, fragrances, cleansers and moisturizers.
- Look for products that feature two logos created by Vegan Action and The Vegan Society. These symbols indicate that a product is vegan and does not contain animal ingredients. You can also refer to PETA’s Animal-Derived Ingredients List as a source for additional information on what ingredients and products are considered to be vegan.
Are vegan and cruelty-free the same thing?
You may have heard the phrase ‘cruelty-free’. But just because a product is vegan, does not necessarily mean it is also cruelty-free. It is possible that a vegan product at some point of its processing, may have endured some animal testing. Look carefully on the packaging for the Leaping Bunny logo. This logo appears only on products that are vegan and also cruelty-free, meaning they are not tested on animals.
What are some of the benefits of using vegan skin care?
Oftentimes, vegan skincare products are gentler on the skin. The ingredients are especially beneficial to individuals with sensitive or allergy-prone skin. There are fewer ingredients which reduces the risk of having an allergic reaction.
Are you curious to try vegan skincare at home? Where do you start?
1. Eat more SUPER FOODS!
This has been a major buzz phrase for the last few years, but when it comes to great skin with a vegan lifestyle, super foods are essential. Some of these super foods include pomegranates, lemons, blueberries, avocados, ginger root, spinach, hemp seeds, tomatoes, garlic, coconuts and green vegetables. Trying to incorporate as many of these alkaline rich foods are excellent for your overall health, but critical to healthy skin. You can buy products with phytochemicals and antioxidants, but consuming them is the best way to start your path towards healthier looking skin.
2. Drink more water.
We hear this over and over again, but for many of us, we still need to be reminded. The standard recommended amount is 8 glasses of water a day for an adult male or female. Your body will become more hydrated and glow from the inside out.
3. Exercise and Sleep.
Sometimes it feels like we are choosing one or the other in our busy lives, but both are equally important in our path to a healthier lifestyle and radiant skin. You may hear your friend say, “Your skin is glowing” after a workout. Not just because of the sweat, but increased blood circulation improves our overall mood and improves our ability to fight infection. Our bodies also need sleep to recover. Did you know the quality of your sleep actually improves when you eat more whole foods and exercise? Consistent exercise and better sleep keep us feeling rested and energized making us stronger and healthier every day. These things are essential to maintaining healthy, radiant skin.
DIY Vegan Skin Care
Try these using these common kitchen ingredients to make several unique recipes for vegan friendly skin care treatments at home:
Oatmeal contains an ingredient with antimicrobial properties, making it an excellent resource for acne-prone skin. It helps eliminate bacteria and soak up excess oil. Oatmeal masks are also particularly useful in moisturizing the skin without clogging pores. Not to mention the fact that oatmeal is inexpensive! It’s a great way to treat your skin without breaking the budget.
- Use ¾ cup plain oatmeal, 1 cup water, 1 tsp agave, a few berries of your choice (especially high in anti-oxidants) and a few drops of tea tree oil. Place the oatmeal and water in a pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Allow to cook for 1-3 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Add your additional ingredients and mix to create a paste. Apply the mask to your face and leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and pat dry. This mask can be used up to once week for overall improvement in skin clarity.
Bananas contain several important ingredients that promote healthy skin. Potassium to help hydrate, Vitamin B helps to protect against aging, Vitamin A is especially useful for treating acne or healing scars and dark spots. Bananas also contain amino acids that help to increase elasticity and promote tissue strength.
- Using an overripe banana, mash it up in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon agave (optional) and ½ teaspoon lemon juice. Apply the banana mixture to your face and leave on for 15-20 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Avocados are packed with nutrients that are great for your body. But the moisturizing properties of an avocado are exceptionally helpful for dry skin and helps to improve overall skin quality.
- At least once a week, slice a small piece of ripe avocado and mush it up with your fingers. Smear the avocado across your face focusing on the areas that need the most moisture. Leave it on your face for about 5 minutes and rinse off with warm water.
The power of sugar goes beyond the cookie jar. One of the best things about using sugar as an exfoliator is that it’s inexpensive and can be mixed with a variety of ingredients to create an effective solution for eliminating dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. Making exfoliating a consistent part of your skin care regimen will help to improve your skins clarity, reduce scarring and help clear up break outs. Just be careful not to exfoliate too much – doing so can cause damage to your skin, redness, irritation and even scarring.
- Vanilla and Brown Sugar Scrub – Mix ½ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup white sugar. Add 3 tablespoons vanilla extract and ¼ cup almost oil. Gently stir the ingredients together creating a paste. Rub the mixture carefully over the skin in a circular motion. Allow the mixture to sit on your skin for 5 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with warm water. Not only does this face scrub smell sweet, it will leave you with soft, glowing skin.
- Lavender and Rosemary Sugar Scrub – One way to destress at the end of a long day is with a mask containing lavender. Using ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon culinary grade lavender extract and 1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary stirred together, apply the mixture gently to the skin and leave on for 5 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Then relax and enjoy healthy, smooth skin.
- Colorful Sugar Scrub – Mix ½ cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon organic jojoba oil and a few drops of your favorite scented oil like mint, orange, vanilla or rosewater. You can also add a drop of food grade coloring to give it a little flare. Mix the ingredients together creating a paste-like substance. Spread carefully on your face in circular motions. You can also leave the mixture to sit on your face for a couple of minutes before rinsing with warm water.
Want more vegan sugar scrub ideas? Check out this easy recipe from Rawfully Wholesome: an essential oil infused Orange vanilla Sugar Scrub!
Cocoa Butter Moisturizer
Even though cocoa butter moisturizers are easy to find, the best way to ensure you are getting a vegan safe product is using your own ingredients. Cocoa butter has been known for its incredibly moisturizing properties. And leaving your skin with a subtle scent of cocoa doesn’t hurt either.
- Combine 1 cup cocoa butter and ½ cup coconut oil in a double boiler gently melting the cocoa butter and oil mixture. Stir in ½ cup jojoba oil or another oil liquid like almond or olive would also work. Allow the moisturizer to cool completely until the oil begins to firm, but is not completely solid. Then using a mixer, whip the ingredients until white peaks begin to form. This formula will make enough for several uses, so store it in an air tight container in a cool place to avoid it from becoming liquid.
Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
There has been a lot of talk in recent years about all the uses of apple cider vinegar. Its properties make it a great ingredient for acquiring healthy, younger looking skin. Containing hydroxyl acids that remove dead skin make apple cider vinegar an exceptional ingredient to add to your vegan skin care regimen.
- As a toner, simply apply apple cider vinegar directly to a cotton ball and move across the skin concentrating on age spots and dry skin areas. Wait about 30 minutes before washing your face to embrace the full effect of the vinegar. And if you’d like to take it one step further and introduce apple cider vinegar in to your hair routine, it helps to eliminate build up and acts as a clarifier to the hair. Work it through your hair before or after you shampoo for smoother, shinier, healthier looking hair.
Baby Shampoo Bubble bath
If you are looking to relax at the end of a busy work week, use oil based bubble baths to maximize moisture. Dry, parched skin can become red, itchy and often irritating. Creating an at home bubble bath formula to increase moisture in your skin can promote healthy looking skin while reducing skin aging factors that are largely related to hydration.
- Combine 1 cup baby shampoo or dishwashing liquid and with 1 cup water, add 1 tablespoon almond oil and add 15 drops of essential oil of your choice. This combination of ingredients is the start to an incredibly relaxing bubble bath.
Not only does your face need to be exfoliated, but your body does too! Using this combination of ingredients helps to exfoliate and moisturize even the driest winter skin, but is gentle enough to use all year long.
- Create this bath salts mixture by combining ¾ cup Epsom salt, ½ cup sea salt, ¼ cup baking soda and 6-8 drops of your favorite essential oils. You can also add dried lavender or rose petals if you’d like. Once the ingredients are combined, you can place them in small jars to store safely and free of any additional outside moisture.
Tea Tree Oil Face Wash
Washing your face should be a normal part of your daily skincare regimen. Using tea tree in a face wash brings about cooling properties. But be careful not to overuse it. It can dry out your skin and increase oil production causing acne and oily skin.
- Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of witch hazel. Using a cotton ball, dip it into the mixture and gently apply to the skin concentrating on areas that need it most. You can follow up by rinsing your face with warm water, but you may also just leave the oil mixture on your skin until the next time you wash your face, (Which is hopefully tonight!) to reveal healthier, more even skin.
Lemon Juice Overnight Spot Treatment
So you’ve got a breakout and a big meeting coming up or a date this weekend… think fast! Chances are you’ve already got these ingredients on hand and the combination can help treat existing breakouts and prevent future ones.
- Add ¼ cup water with a dash of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Add a healthy pinch of cinnamon to the mixture and stir until all the ingredients are mixed well together. Using a cotton ball, apply the mixture to problem areas. This may be left on overnight for best results. Be sure to rinse it off in the morning when you are completing your daily skin care regimen.
So whether being a vegan is new to you or something you’ve been practicing all your life, it’s never too late to try new vegan skin care tricks at home using simple ingredients you may already have. Just don’t forget to compliment those new skin care strategies with a healthy diet of anti-oxidant rich foods, getting enough sleep and more exercise. Sounds simple enough, right? Try it and let us know how it goes.